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Five reasons to attend the FIRE Student Network Summer Conference

By June 12, 2017

The tenth annual FIRE Student Network Summer Conference is just around the corner! From July 14–16, FIRE will be hosting over 100 top students from across the country in Philadelphia for a weekend of workshops, networking, and collaboration with some of the top free speech advocates in the nation. Are you a student who cares about the future of free speech? If so, here are five reasons why you can’t afford to miss the FIRE Student Network Summer Conference.

1) Free speech is under attack

Students who wish to express themselves on campus often find that they are limited to absurdly named “free speech zones.” Students and faculty are reported to the administration by their fellow campus community members when their speech is subjectively perceived to be “biased.” Speakers who are formally invited to speak on campus are disinvited under pressure from ideologically opposed groups. Student groups are “taxed” for inviting speakers deemed too controversial by administrators. Such speaking events are sometimes met with coordinated disruption and even violence. The very folks who are tasked with protecting student rights are not merely dropping the ball, but are oftentimes complicit in the promotion of speech-restrictive campus climates. Consider that, at this time, 92 percent of colleges included in FIRE’s Spotlight database have speech codes on the books that either clearly restrict, or could too easily be used to restrict, free speech. This can’t stand, and FIRE needs your help to do something about it. The FIRE Student Network Summer Conference will arm you with the tools and resources to make changes on your campus.

2) Connect with the top student advocates in the country

The FIRE Student Network Summer Conference will bring together students representing institutions from coast to coast. Though representing diverse cultures, ideologies, and areas of study, all attendees are committed to defending and preserving free speech on America’s college campuses. By networking and collaborating with other students throughout the weekend, you’ll learn about all the ways they have changed the free speech culture on their campuses for the better, and how you can do the same.

3) Meet and work closely with FIRE’s staff and hear from exciting keynote speakers

Over a weekend already jam-packed with discussion, information, and resources for promoting individual rights on campus, you will work closely with FIRE staff to explore current free speech and due process challenges. You will learn about the history of censorship on campus and the forces at play in the current struggle against restrictive speech codes, and FIRE staff will make themselves readily available for questions throughout the weekend. Last but not least, you will learn about the fascinating experiences of keynote speakers Daryl Davis and Jeffrey Rosen.

4) Learn effective and focused strategies to create change on your campus

FIRE staff will address what’s happening on your campus with interactive, targeted sessions.  Whether you’re an activist, a student journalist, a member of your school’s student government, or just someone looking to learn more about your rights, you’ll leave Philadelphia with knowledge and resources that are tailored to help you be a more effective advocate on your campus from day one.

5) Get inspired in the city that was the birthplace of the Constitution

The conference will be held at the National Constitution Center, just steps away from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Quite simply, there isn’t a more fitting place to start a free speech revolution.

The FIRE Student Network Summer Conference will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 14–16, 2017. The conference will kick off on Friday afternoon and end with lunch on Sunday. We welcome current students at U.S. colleges and universities, including graduate students and incoming freshmen. Housing and meals will be provided. Reimbursement for up to $300 per student will be available to help with costs for travel to and from Philadelphia. Applications are due Friday, June 23. Spaces are filling up fast, so apply today!